BACOLOD CITY – A group of doctors is appealing to the National Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to place Bacolod under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) again for two weeks, citing the rapid spike in the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases here.
In a letter addressed to President Duterte, Dr. Ma. Ivy Malata, president of the Philippine Medical Association – Canlaon Medical Society and Dr. Roberto Puerta of the Philippine Medical Association – Negros Occidental Medical Society, said that there has been a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, with local transmission reaching its highest in the past few days.
Thus, they strongly recommended that the movement of people of Bacolod be limited by declaring an ECQ to contain the cases and prevent the spread of the coronavirus to a level of community transmission, which will be more difficult to handle.
The doctors said in the letter that the city was not equipped for a full-blast COVID-19 war, and that it only had a few hospitals, with limited capacity and equipment.
“We are just a few steps from being the next epicenter, and we fervently hope that you can help us prevent that from happening,” the doctors said.
They also cited some recommendations, such as extensive contact tracing, strengthening the role of Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) in overseeing and monitoring patients that should be home quarantined, unified protocols for all healthcare facilities, returning locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and improved implementation of protocols, especially the coordination between cities to allow time for the receiving city to make arrangements for incoming LSIs.
They also stated in their letter their request for an increase in the number of quarantine facilities, as well as step down facilities for recovering COVID patients.
The doctors also asked for the conduct of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing on individuals working in seaports and airports, especially those with symptoms.
They also underscored the need for task force deployment, data pooling of all COVID-19 positive patients in the city and province of Negros Occidental for possible convalescent plasma intervention.
Recently, the Bacolod Task Force against COVID-19 confirmed the local transmission here, following the local cases of 13 persons from Banago village, who tested positive for the virus after having close contact with a COVID-19 fatality, a construction worker.
Close to 1,000 houses were already sealed off for 14 days in more than five villages here since last week, when a government employee also tested positive for the virus, which was considered another case of local transmission here.
In response, Mayor Evelio Leonardia said on Tuesday that the city government was doing its best to contain the virus.
In fact, Leonardia said that they have met with the doctors, who sent the letter to Duterte.
“This is not just about considering the health aspects but also looking into other factors like the economy, security, and social aspects of the situation,” he said.
“We want to get a more comprehensive coverage of the situation of Bacolod,” the mayor added.
Leonardia said that “this was not a time to panic, but a time to be very careful,” as he considered this, as a warning sign that people should cooperate and continue to strictly practice the basic health protocols.
Meanwhile, Bacolod has 151 COVID-19 cases, with 58 recovered cases, 89 active cases, and four deaths, as of July 27.